Pope Proclaims Religious Freedom as First Right in State of the World Address
Peace is built and preserved only when human beings can freely seek and serve God in their hearts, in their lives and in their relationships with others.
Another sign of the marginalization of religion, and of Christianity in particular, is the banning of religious feasts and symbols from civic life under the guise of respect for the members of other religions or those who are not believers. By acting in this way, not only is the right of believers to the public expression of their faith restricted, but an attack is made on the cultural roots which nourish the profound identity and social cohesion of many nations. (Pope Benedict XVI)
Pope Benedict XVI addresses the Diplomatic Corps
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Every New Year the Pope addresses the Diplomatic Corps. The Vatican has diplomatic realtions with 181 Nations. There was a strong expectation that with the increasing religious persecution and violence in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, China and spreading throughout the world, that the Holy Father would continue his impassioned call for religious freedom to be recognized as a fundamental human right by every Nation. That is precisely what he did.
We have extensively covered the growing global hostility toward Catholics and other Christians. It is one of our highest editorial priorities. We must pray for and stand with those who suffer for the Lord; whether it is the evil of the violence we have witnessed in Baghdad, Mumbia, or Alexandria which resulted in the martyrdom of blood or the growing "Christianophobia" in the West, including the United States of America.
The Holy See released the full text of this profound, pastoral and prophetic address. We offer our readers the portions below. We invite our readers to continue to pray for the Pope, that he would have all of the grace he needs to courageously exercise his apostolic office. We ask you to pray for our persecuted brethren throughout the world. Finally, to pray for true and authentic peace which, as the Pope made clear, requires the recognition of a fundamental human right to religious freedom. Finally we ask our readers to study the manner in which the Pope articulates the truth concerning religious freedom as the model for our own defense of that freedom in the public square:
On the State of the World : Address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Vatican Diplomatic Corps
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you, the distinguished representatives of so many countries, to this meeting which each year assembles you around the Successor of Peter. It is a deeply significant meeting, since it is a sign and illustration of the place of the Church and of the Holy See in the international community. ... As a new year begins, our own hearts and the entire world continue to echo the joyful message proclaimed twenty centuries ago in the night of Bethlehem, a night which symbolizes humanity's deep need for light, love and peace. ...
In longing for these gifts, each person is seeking his Creator, for "God alone responds to the yearning present in the heart of every man and woman" (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 23). Humanity throughout history, in its beliefs and rituals, demonstrates a constant search for God and "these forms of religious expression are so universal that one may well call man a religious being" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 28). The religious dimension is an undeniable and irrepressible feature of man's being and acting, the measure of the fulfilment of his destiny and of the building up of the community to which he belongs. Consequently, when the individual himself or those around him neglect or deny this fundamental dimension, imbalances and conflicts arise at all levels, both personal and interpersonal.
This primary and basic truth is the reason why, in this year's Message for World Day of Peace, I identified religious freedom as the fundamental path to peace. Peace is built and preserved only when human beings can freely seek and serve God in their hearts, in their lives and in their relationships with others. Ladies and Gentlemen, your presence on this solemn occasion is an invitation to survey the countries which you represent and the entire world. In this panorama do we not find numerous situations in which, sadly, the right to religious freedom is violated or denied? It is indeed the first of human rights, not only because it was historically the first to be recognized but also because it touches the constitutive dimension of man, his relation with his Creator. ...
Looking to the East, the attacks which brought death, grief and dismay among the Christians of Iraq, even to the point of inducing them to leave the land where their families have lived for centuries, has troubled us deeply. To the authorities of that country and to the Muslim religious leaders I renew my heartfelt appeal that their Christian fellow-citizens be able to live in security, continuing to contribute to the society in which they are fully members. In Egypt too, in Alexandria, terrorism brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church. This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities. Need we repeat it?
In the Middle East, Christians are original and authentic citizens who are loyal to their fatherland and assume their duties toward their country. It is natural that they should enjoy ...
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